Recent March Madness Legends Who Flopped in the NBA
This is a shout-out to the March Madness legends who peaked in college.
We're celebrating their highs, empathizing with their lows, and, in some cases, laughing at the idea of franchises letting March magic cloud their judgment.
I stayed fairly recent with this one to keep it relevant: only players who completed their college career in the last 20 years were eligible. These players also had to be drafted by an NBA team to be considered. Finally, if a player's NBA career was ended early by an injury, like Duke's Jay Williams, they don't qualify as a bust.
Without further ado, here are the guys who reached the next level only to fall flat on their faces.
Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
When you think of great college players who just couldn't make the transition, Adam Morrison has to be one of the first that comes to mind.
In 2006, Morrison led Gonzaga to a Sweet 16 appearance, averaging 24 points in the team's three games. However, he was last remembered that March for providing fans with one of the most uncomfortable moments in sports-viewing history. Collapsing to the floor after Gonzaga blew a big lead to UCLA, Morrison (and his mustache) began to sob for the cameras.
The Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft—something Michael Jordan likely regrets to this day.
Morrison was a scoring machine and offensive mismatch at Gonzaga, but when he got the pros, the length and athleticism of opposing wings bothered him.
In 2007, Morrison tore his ACL, was eventually traded to the Lakers and then released, but not before winning two rings as a bench warmer.
He's been bouncing around the D-League and overseas ever since, and his career in the NBA is all but finished.
A defensive liability and offensive tweener at the highest level, the transition just wasn't meant to be. Morrison will end up going down as one of the bigger busts in draft history.
Tyrus Thomas, LSU
Tyrus Thomas went No. 4 in the 2006 NBA draft before being traded immediately for LaMarcus Aldridge.
If you recall, Thomas had led LSU to a Final Four appearance a few months before. The Tigers knocked off No. 1 Duke in the Sweet 16, with Thomas going for 13 points, nine boards and five blocks. In the Elite Eight, he went for 21 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks to defeat No. 2 Texas Longhorns.
I guess you could see what the Bulls were thinking here. Thomas was a freak athlete at around 6'10'', which gave him loads of potential and a high ceiling. But the elevator stopped about halfway up.
He sports a career average of 7.8 points and 4.9 rebounds, playing the last four years as an expendable piece for an uninspiring Charlotte Bobcats rotation.
We've seen big busts before, but Thomas' March Madness performances were what drove up his stock.
Tyus Edney, UCLA
With his team down one in the second round with less than five ticks on the clock, Tyus Edney took it the length of the floor for a legendary finish.
UCLA went on to win the national championship in 1995 with Edney handling the ball. It would ultimately be the last time he was given the floor-general cap.
Edney was drafted in the second round four years before he was out of work.
With Edney listed at 5'10'', there wasn't much room for error here, and error struck.
Trajan Langdon and William Avery, Duke
Remember these guys? I sure do.
Trajan Langdon, a.k.a. the Alaskan Assassin, averaged 17.3 points and William Avery averaged 14.9 in 1998-1999, when Duke's star guards, along with Elton Brand, led the Blue Devils all the way to a loss in the national championship game against UConn.
They were big-time shooters with three-point percentages over 40 percent. They were your typical Duke guards.
Except for the fact that they stunk in the NBA.
Langdon went No. 11 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1999 draft, with Avery going just a few picks later at No. 14 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Sandwiched in between was Duke teammate Corey Maggette, who went No. 13. Elton Brand went No. 1 overall.
Both Langdon and Avery lasted three years in the pros before heading overseas. Neither brought more than a jump shot to the NBA table.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso
We've all seen it. The shot. The dive. And then the NBA flop.
Bryce Drew's miraculous buzzer-beater had people talking about Valparaiso, a school that most of the viewers at the time probably never heard of.
With Valparaiso down two with 2.5 on the clock, the ball traveled the length of the floor before Drew was given the quick flip on the wing, where he stuck a 23-footer to knock off No. 4 seed Ole Miss.
And then with the No. 16 pick of the 1998 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets selected Bryce Drew.
Drew somehow managed to last six years in the NBA. He had a career year in 2001 with the Chicago Bulls, when he was top 200 in the league in scoring at over six points per game.
He's now the head coach of the Valparaiso men's basketball program. His team was eliminated by Michigan State in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Ed O'Bannon, UCLA
Ed O'Bannon was the man for UCLA in 1995, when the program took home yet another NCAA national championship.
He went absolutely nuts in the title game against Arkansas, finishing with 30 points and 17 rebounds.
And then he got drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the ninth pick in the 1995 NBA draft.
After two seasons, O'Bannon was traded to the Dallas Mavericks before he was traded to Orlando and then released.
To his credit, O'Bannon was dealing with bad knees, but he never had the size of an NBA power forward.
I'm not sure the term "tweener" was invented back then, but it might have applied.
Patrick O'Bryant, Bradley
Patrick O'Bryant was that raw 7-footer out of Bradley who led the No. 13 Braves to a Sweet 16 in 2006.
In the second round, O'Bryant dropped 28 points on Pittsburgh, generating all sorts of NBA draft buzz in the process. For those that say one game can't move the needle, this was proof that it can.
All you need is one dummy to fall in love, and in this case, that dummy was the Golden State Warriors, which reached and took O'Bryant No. 9 overall.
O'Bryant went on to play for three teams in four years and has since bounced back and forth between the D-League and overseas.
To Golden State's credit, that was a weak draft after the first eight picks. Except for the fact that Rajon Rondo and Kyle Lowry went in the 20s and Paul Millsap went in the second round.
John Wallace, Syracuse
John Wallace averaged 22.2 points and 8.7 rebounds in his senior year at Syracuse, leading the team all the way to the national championship game.
In the Sweet 16, Wallace hit a three with 2.8 seconds on the clock to knock off Georgia. Against a Kentucky team consisting of future NBA players Antoine Walker, Walter McCarty, Derek Anderson, Ron Mercer and Tony Delk, Wallace went for 29 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort.
Wallace was your typical standout college player with his cutoff-sleeve undershirt. But his skill set never translated, despite the New York Knicks using the 18th pick on him in the 1996 NBA draft.
He lasted in the NBA for seven seasons, doing a terrific job of keeping the bench warm for the actual rotation players.
Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State
Mateen Cleaves guided Michigan State to a national championship in 2000 and was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player in the process.
Everybody loved watching this kid play. Cleaves played with energy, flash and a smile.
He was selected No. 14 overall in 2000, a draft which could go down as one of the worst in NBA history.
Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, DerMarr Johnson, Chris Mihm, Joel Przybilla, Keyon Dooling, Jerome Moiso, Etan Thomas and Courtney Alexander were all lottery picks.
Cleaves played for four different teams in six years before finally giving it up.
He just never had the breakdown ability or perimeter game that's required at the NBA level.
You can now find Cleaves on Fox Sports Detroit.
Khalid El-Amin, Connecticut
It turns out the former McDonald's All-American might have ate one too many Big Macs.
Khalid El-Amin led the Connecticut Huskies to a national championship in 1999, scoring the team's final four points in a wild three-point win over Duke.
He was drafted No. 34 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2000, but never made it back for year No. 2.
If you're aware of El-Amin, I don't think I'm breaking any news here by saying that he was a little overweight.
Let's just say the scouting report didn't list conditioning as a strength.
El-Amin has been playing overseas since his 50-game NBA career.
Eric Montross, North Carolina
Eric Montross was the leading scorer for the 1993 national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.
He scored 23 points in the Final Four game against Kansas before finishing with 15 points in a championship game that was overshadowed by Chris Webber's infamous timeout call.
At 7'0", Montross was considered a legitimate NBA prospect and was eventually taken No. 9 overall by the Boston Celtics in 1994.
Montross actually had a solid rookie year, which represented his peak. After averaging 10 points per game in 1994, Montross never averaged in double digits again.
A foot injury lingered for most of his career, which ultimately led to the end of it.